... It took me a while to find out what exactly stimulated those feelings since I couldn’t point out to anything, which I had not seen “better” somewhere else before. I have seen better beaches and more pristine swimming coves in the Caribbean, more stunning landscapes in North America, a greater versatility of climates and vegetation in Hawaii, more mystic atmospheres in the saharan desert monasteries in Egypt, and a for sure more happening beach life in Waikiki, Venice or Cancun. Even the plentiful ayurvedic massage parlors in Kerala did not top my experiences in Portland, Oregon.
So, what was it now that attracted me so much to this beach town in Southern India that made me fall in love with, over and above all else I experienced before? Well, I did not fall in love because I was overwhelmed. The place grew on me in a more sustainable sense. Most amenities of life that I like to have around me in random access are here at hand. At least during winter season. First, the climate is just in my favor. It’s always warm and balmy, the ocean brings in a nice breeze and there are lots and lots of trees. There are the local people, friendly and warm hearted and mild mannered. Most of them speak English, so communication is really not a problem. There is a great country realistically accessible, with its incredible cultural and philosophical heritage, as well as a modern, technology savvy young optimism. A healthy mass of international tourists, a community of long-termers, foreign residents and regular guests help settling in into a in a lot of ways very different country. And in walking distance I did find about everything I could ask for. Good Food, Internet, coffee shops, restaurants, accommodation of all sorts, modern (and cheap) dentistry, public transportation access to Trivandrum, with its international airport, nation wide connected bus and railway stations, markets, parks and book stores, even an Apple computer dealer. And ubiquitous rickshaws for cheap rides through the hilly layout of greater Kovalam.
The following winter (and all winters since) I came back to learn more about this magnetic atmosphere. Reading about Kovalam’s history, I learned that global relations and dealing with international visitors isn’t anything new for Keralites. Archeologists are unearthing roman and greek artifacts all over the state - at least this far back goes regular maritime traffic and trade on the Malabar Spice Coast. Foreigners are always welcome, looked at, dealt with – till today. Keralas ancient history is still alive and certainly not finished soon. At least ages old Ayurveda medicine and Yoga is for sure to stay in Kovalam. And since I made good friends here, I shall stay for time to come, too.
After five intense winters in Kovalam, there is still a lot to see, do and learn for me - about the place, the world and myself. It is affordable, it is pleasant, it is challenging. And although life here has its, sometimes harsh, realities, it is one of the better places on this planet – at least for myself.
...back to Kovalam